Thursday, January 21, 2016

News: £5m EU funding call to support Sheffield city region's economy

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The Government has launched a call for proposals to apply for £1m of European funding to support SMEs, and £4m to support the shift to a low carbon economy in the Sheffield city region (SCR).

Structural funding from the EU is likely to be integral to meeting the targets in the Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) Growth Plan, which has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield city region (SCR) by 2023. The city region can expect £180m for 2014 to 2020 which brings together funding pots such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

Six calls were made by the SCR last year in a bid to secure £17m for support in relation to international trade, investment into Enterprise Zones and innovation capital.

The first of two new bids focuses on enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) by increasing capacity and capability and promoting entrepreneurship, specifically by providing support for social enterprises referred from the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

The Government is working with Local Enterprise Partnership (LEPs) across England to establish a network of private sector-led Growth Hubs connecting businesses to the right support including access to local and Government funded support services. Applicants under this call will need to demonstrate how activity and delivery will be coordinated and made accessible through the Growth Hub in the SCR.

£800,000 is made available within South Yorkshire (Transition Region), and £200,000 within the rest of Sheffield city region. Applicants are being called to submit bids for no less than £500,000 and projects should be for a maximum of three years.

The call states: "The European Structural Investment Fund Strategy recognises and promotes the role of social enterprises to deliver social as well as economic impacts thereby helping to address some of the entrenched inclusion challenges in the city region.

"Social Enterprises have particular barriers in relation to their unique business model which are not experienced by other businesses and due to the priority placed on social impact balanced against financial return.

"Social and Community Enterprises have a key role to play in growth of the city region and the city region's ambition to create sustainable growth, which benefits citizens and communities whilst growth GVA."

Deborah Egan OBE, LEP board member and chair of the Social Inclusion & Equalities Advisory Board, said: "From managing community pubs and open spaces to delivering home based care for the elderly, social enterprises play an increasingly important role in the fabric of our society.

"Sheffield City Region fully supports Social Enterprises, who can be the most innovative and agile companies in our commercial landscape."

The second call focuses on the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors and the use of funding to "deliver resource-saving options efficiently alongside other essential infrastructures and innovations that will help boost growth."

Funding research projects and implementation, priorities include: renewable fuels and energy, in particular wind energy, solar and biomass; the wider deployment of renewable heat such as micro-generation or district heating; energy efficiency measures for businesses; and low emission vehicles.

£3m is made available within South Yorkshire (Transition Region), and £1m within the rest of Sheffield city region. Applicants are being called to submit bids for no less than £1m with projects completed by June 2023.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: European Commission

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